2021 Spring Shoe Guide
13 New Models and Updates for Spring
Puma Deviate Nitro BEST NEW MODEL
Men’s: 268 g (9.5 oz.) Women’s: 218 g (7.7 oz.) Drop: 8 mm
Puma is a well-established brand in the sports world, but the new, maximalist Deviate Nitro (one of a suite of shoes using the brand’s innovative midsole cushioning material) proves it’s serious about running (as does their recent signing of marathoner Molly Seidel and steeplechaser Aisha Praught-Leer). With a thin mesh upper, an embedded carbon composite plate and a 32 mm nitrogen-infused midsole, the Deviate is a very springy, propulsive shoe designed to take you through long training runs efficiently and with less wear and tear on your legs than a non-plated shoe. For runners accustomed to the feel of better-known plated shoes, the Deviate has a similar pop at toe-off, but without the noticeable rocker, making for more natural feeling ( but just as smooth) transitions. It’s also a tiny bit closer to the ground than its competitors, which means less instability when turning corners. The outsole is a grippy, hightraction rubber that both hugs the road on rainy days and prolongs the shoe’s life.
The Nitro line also recognizes that women’s feet aren’t just smaller versions of men’s feet – they’re proportioned differently, and the narrower heel in the women’s shoe ref lects that. In short: the Deviate Nitro is fairly light, comfortable and fast and makes a great long run shoe, or even a race shoe for the marathon or half-marathon.
PRONATION: the normal inward roll of the foot as you transition from heel to toe. Excessive pronation (overpronation) may make a runner more susceptible to injury.
NEUTRAL SHOE: designed for runners who don’t overpronate. STABILITY SHOE: designed for runners who overpronate, i.e. their feet roll inward significantly with each step.
STACK HEIGHT: thickness of the foam midsole.
DROP: also called the offset, it’s the difference between the height of the midsole stack at the heel vs. the toe.
MIDSOLE: the layer of foam between the upper and the outsole (bottom).
ENERGY RETURN: the degree to which the midsole foam springs back after being compressed when your foot hits the ground. MIDSOLE PLATE: the rigid plate embedded in a shoe’s midsole that’s designed to improve running efficiency in well-trained runners (some plates are made of carbon fibre, some of plastic).
ROCKER: the upward curve toward the toe in some shoes.
Saucony Kinvara 12 BEST SHOE FOR SPEEDWORK
Men’s: 213 g (7.5 oz.) Women’s: 184 g (6.5 oz.) Drop: 4 mm
The Kinvara has been around a long time, and at this point in a shoe franchise’s lifespan the tweaks with each successive version are going to be subtle. For the experienced, efficient runner who trains hard and likes a firm, light trainer with a low drop, the new Kinvara just keeps getting better.
The Kinvara is the lightest shoe in our roundup, by a significant margin, and the 12 is 20 g lighter than the 11. It retains the superlight pwrrun midsole used in the previous update introduced early last year, but the upper has been stripped down to the bare essentials (though you’d never know it from a photograph – this shoe makes a statement), with just a little padding around the tongue and collar to keep chafing and blisters away. It also doesn’t make any bold claims about support/stability or injury prevention; it just lets you run naturally and fast. But it does hug the ground, even on wet days, with better traction than a shoe this light has a right to. It’s perfect for track workouts, fast tempos and fartleks, or even for your next PB over 5k or 10k.
Under Armour HOVR Infinite Summit 2
Category: Neutral Unisex: 357 g (12.6 oz.) Drop: 8 mm
The Infinite is UA’s most versatile trainer, and the Infinite Summit 2 is like a special-edition Infinite that will work for most of your daily training, as well as potentially stop traffic with its arresting esthetics. The shoe’s extraordinary step-in comfort comes from the foam sockliner, which also prevents your foot from sliding around inside the shoe while you run, and the well-padded collar contributes to a feeling of plushness. An external tpu (plastic) heel counter keeps your heel comfortably in place, and the supportive white cage on both sides is there for added stability. The shoe has a heavy-duty, trail-inspired rubber outsole that will keep you upright and moving forward in any conditions or terrain, and carbon rubber pods under the heel for added traction and durability. (The reinforced overlay on the toe is also reminiscent of a trail shoe.) The unusual cord lacing system and webbing at the tongue and heel seem more aesthetic than functional. This is the heaviest shoe in our roundup, and likely won’t be your first choice for faster workouts.
Unli ke ot her hov r models, t his shoe does not come wit h an embedded chip.
Hoka One One Mach 4
Men’s: 227 g (8 oz.) Women’s: 192 g (6.8 oz.) Drop: 5 mm
Canadians are not so familiar with the Mach, but they soon will be, thanks to this major update, which launches officially on March 1. The Mach 4 is now like a lighter, faster version of the popular Hoka Clifton 7 – they have similar stack heights (29 mm in the men’s, 27 mm in the women’s) – and early reports out of the U.S. look very promising.
The shoe works best as a fast trainer that you’d use for tempo runs and interval workouts. The midsole is made of the brand’s Prof ly cushioning foam, which is considerably softer and 5 mm thicker than in the first version. The 4 also now has the same f lared heel collar as the Clifton 7 that makes it easy to pull on and reduces pressure on the Achilles.
Wearers are loving the shoe’s lightness and responsiveness, though we reserve judgment on the longevity of the rubberized eva outsole. Note: the fit is long and narrow, and wider sizes are not available for this model.
Brooks Glycerin 19
Men’s: 289 g (10.2 oz.) Women’s: 255 g (9.0 oz.) Drop: 10 mm
The Glycerin is Brooks’ plushest trainer, and so instantly light and comfortable, you won’t need any breaking-in time. With a nice stack of dna loft cushioning material through the length of the midsole, you get a smooth, comfortable ride in just about any conditions. You also get more than acceptable energy return and you can expect the 19 will last as long as previous iterations. The 19, which comes in a variety of colours, has all the features Glycerin fans have come to expect from this very successful shoe: excellent comfort, great energy return and reliable durability. It now has even more cushioning, a slightly modified upper to enhance fit, and a spongy heel collar. There’s not much that’s sexy about the Glycerin – but that’s why diehard runners keep coming back to it. Overall, an excellent choice for a daily trainer or long run shoe.
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
Men’s: 314 g (11.1 oz.) Women’s: 253 g (8.9 oz.) Drop: 9 mm
Several brands are focused on helping runners prevent injuries in 2021, and Nike is one. Both the new ZoomX Invincible and the React Infinity 2 (p.57) are also designed to help you improve your running economy, the goal being to help you get faster while staying healthy. Though many runners have biomechanical issues that shoes alone are unlikely to fix, the ZoomX (Pebax) foam in the new Invincible achieves a blend of springy responsiveness, support and comfort that make for efficient long runs and quick recoveries. Plus the stack is significantly lower than on the Vaporf ly, Next% and Alphaf ly, so you don’t get the wobbliness that may lead to instability on tight turns. (The midsole is also very wide at the front, which also enhances stability, and the rocker in the sole cancels out any sluggishness in transitions resulting from the wider forefoot.)
The Flyknit upper is also more substantial than the Vaporf ly’s, and has a molded tongue and padded heel collar – all of which contribute to a better fit and a more comfortable long-run experience.
Under Armour FLOW Velociti Wind BEST UPDATE
Men’s: 241 g (8.5 oz.) Women’s: 227 g (8.02 oz.) Drop: 8 mm
Under Armour’s new racing f lat, launching March 5, represents a breakthrough for the brand, and an overhaul of the Velociti 3 racing f lat launched in 2020.
Specifically, the new flow combination midsoleoutsole, while providing comparable energy return to the brand’s hovr material, is lighter, firmer, more durable, and naturally grippy, eliminating the need for a separate rubber outsole. (Ditching the outsole, according to the brand, saves around 70 g of unnecessary weight.) It still has the more forgiving 8 mm drop, which is slightly higher than other racing f lats, making it more versatile and more appealing to a wider variety of runners. (It’s also gone up in price by almost a third.)
The flow Velociti Wind also has the super-comfortable molded sock liner and exceptional aesthetics we’ve come to expect from UA. Designed to work for all of your daily training runs and workouts, it will also serve you well as a racing f lat for anything from the 5k to the half-marathon. And it has the embedded chip that allows users to get on-the-run coaching via the UA MapMyRun app. If your sights for 2021 are set on some new PBs, this shoe is well worth a try.
Asics Glideride 2 Lite Show BEST SHOE FOR LONG RUNS
Men’s: 323 g (11.4 oz.) Women’s: 252 g (8.9 oz.) Drop: 5 mm
The Glideride was built to help you achieve an optimally efficient gait (i.e., one that requires as little energy output as possible). It accomplishes this via a marked rocker in the sole (the brand’s GuideSole Technology), combined with stiffness in the forefoot and a reinforced plastic plate. The theory is that all those things, along with a reinforced heel cup, help propel the foot through the gait cycle and minimize excessive side-toside movement in the ankle (which compromises efficiency).
This new update succeeds well. For those who like a nice, firm, responsive ride, the shoe delivers. And those who are accustomed to a squishier ride but are still looking for great energy return should consider giving this model a whirl, since the shoe’s stiffness is offset by the rocker in the sole. The update also has a super-tough Ahar rubber outsole, which means you can put a ton of miles on it without wearing it down. The tradeoff is that, despite the deep cutaway in the sole, it’s a little heavier than comparable fast trainers, so you may decide to opt for something lighter for your faster workouts. Just don’t be surprised when your coach asks why your long runs have suddenly become faster.
Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 2
Men’s: 258 g (9.1 oz.) Women’s: 221 g (7.8 oz.) Drop: 8 mm
Building on the success of the brand’s highly cushioned Gel-Nimbus franchise, the Nimbus Lite 2 is even lighter, more comfortable and more durable than before. Asics’ signature Gel technology has been made softer in the rear for bettercushioned landings, and the well padded tongue and heel collar will help keep your feet comfortable over long, easy runs and faster workouts alike.
The shoe also leaves a smaller “footprint” than before. The breathable mesh upper is made almost entirely from recycled materials, and the brand’s signature Flytefoam cushioning in the midsole incorporates cellulose nanofibre, a sustainable material made from wood pulp that boosts the foam’s durability. Plus, its tough Ahar rubber outsole enhances the shoe’s longevity, keeping it in circulation longer. This is an excellent choice for the runner who is concerned about our sport’s impact on the environment.
Men’s: 282 g (9.9 oz.) Women’s: 220 g (7.7 oz.) Drop: 7 mm
Intended as a sturdy but responsive daily trainer for the urban road runner, the Cloudswift’s socklike upper (100 per cent recycled engineered mesh) and supportive cage deliver a snug, locked-down fit without irritation. The shoe delivers a highly propulsive and satisfyingly springy, responsive ride, achieved by a number of factors: the noticeable rocker in the sole, the pronounced Helion Superfoam ( eva) cloud elements, and the updated Speedboard (like a hard plastic midsole plate, which now has more f lex in the heel and less in the forefoot, for smooth transitions and a firm snap at toe-off ).
The shoe works well for easy runs, long runs and short races, and is light enough to perform decently for faster tempo runs, fartleks and intervals on the track.
Altra Escalante 2.5
Men’s: 241 g (8.5 oz.) Women’s: 196 g (6.9 oz.) Drop: 0 mm
The latest Escalante feels like a slipper the moment you pull it on, thanks to the super-stretchy knit upper and tongue, cosy sockliner and highly f lexible construction. With 2 4 mm of plush foam in the midsole (softer than in the previous version), the shoe delivers a cushy ride without compromising on energy return, allowing you to feel the ground accurately with every step. The outsole is rubber only in the areas of highest wear, which keeps the shoe incredibly light. It’s perfect for faster workouts and also makes a great race-day shoe.
If you’re trying this brand for the first time, you’ll enjoy the roomy toebox (especially if you have a wider foot), but be aware that Altra has a zero-drop philosophy, which asserts that your heels should not be higher than your toes (to promote a natural, midfoot-striking running style). If you’re accustomed to a shoe with a higher drop, start with very short distances to spare your calves and Achilles tendons.
Brooks Glycerin GTS 19 BEST STABILITY SHOE
Men’s: 303 g (10.7 oz.) Women’s: 269 g (9.5 oz.) Drop: 10 mm
Those with a tendency to overpronate can go for the gts (Go-To Support) version of the Glycerin 19, which has Brooks’s GuideRails stability system. Using bumpers, rather than traditional posting, on the medial (inside) and lateral (outside) parts of the midsole, the GuideRails system gently protects runners from any excess heel and shin rotation you may experience in the latter stages of a race or a long workout – movement that can, over time, cause damage to the knee, where the highest percentage of running injuries occurs. The GuideRails are there when you need them, but do not interfere with your natural stride. So you get all the features you’ve always loved about the Glycerin (that comfortable, cushy foam combined with great energy return) with a little extra support from the GuideRails when you need it.
Nike React Infinity Run 2 BEST DAILY TRAINER
Men’s: 302 g (10.7 oz.) Women’s: 244 g (8.6 oz.) Drop: 8 mm
The React Infinity Run was created to address the need for stability without the rigidity of traditional medial posting, and it’s been updated with an even greater focus on injury prevention. The shoe’s stability comes via a wider platform at the front, and, as with the ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit (reviewed on p.54), the shoe’s rocker helps you glide smoothly through transitions.
Based on feedback from r unners, t he brand has beefed up t he toe area of t he upper so it doesn’t wear t hrough as quickly.
There’s more generous padding in t he heel collar, and t he brand ’s unique Fly wire cables perform t he same f unct ion as overlays in ot her brands, adding st r uct ure and enhancing f it and lockdown. The st retchy tong ue cont r ibutes to a comfy, socklike feel t hat will st ay wit h you t hroughout your run. The React foam in t he midsole, which manages to be soft and durable at t he same t ime (t he perennial quest for shoe brands) means t he shoe ret ains t hat feeling of c ushy comfort for a lot of miles. This highly versat ile shoe works well for easy r uns, long r uns and tempo sessions for r unners of a ll levels .